Deciding what partnerships and mentors to bring on board is crucial for the survival of your Startup Program. You want to make sure everyone in the program’s network is committed, engaged, and excited. But, how exactly are you supposed to make the right decision? Let’s try to see if we can make your lives a bit easier with this fool-proof guide on finding the ideal mentors for your program.
Establish your Business Ethics
Having mentors that share the same culture and values with you is key to preserving your founders’ well-being. When setting up a startup, founders are in a vulnerable position navigating a complex world that might be completely new to them. So, what do you offer them? Whatever it is, you have to make sure everyone involved with them is looking for the same and acts like it. Alignment and business ethics can help your founders and partners stay focused and effective throughout the program, maximizing its’ results for both sides. An easy way to ensure values alignment when bringing in your partners, is to have long conversations with them to make your business ethics crystal clear.
2. Choose the type of mentors you are looking for
The second step is to establish the type of mentors you need. Mentors working in corporations can provide invaluable insights into the industries your founders will work in. Additionally, this is a two-way street, corporations often seek to work with startup programs to be in close touch with startups and stay in the loop of all developments and new trends within their industry.
Within the startup world, you might want to combine the advice of co-founders in mature tech startups, who can act as role models for all your founders, with that of founders in early-stage startups (ideally just one stage after the one that are most startups in your batches), the latter will usually have more time to dedicate, be more approachable and can share what’s needed to move to the next stage.
Scientific partners, such as research centers and universities can also be key for startup programs focused on deeptech industries such as biotech, robotics or AI. These types of partners are especially valuable assisting founders in building impactful and innovative solutions.
3. Complementing your program with other stakeholders
Considering what type of mentors you might want, you can think further and consider which may complement your program. This is a fundamental idea when it comes to selecting mentors because it is one of the greatest ways to skyrocket your program’s brand. Being thoughtful of what you offer and making sure your program is as complete as possible can help you, and your founders, have the greatest positive impact possible. For instance, if you are an accelerator you may want to collaborate with people working on a VC Fund that can share insights with your startups about their approach to angels or later stage investors and ideally invest in your startups before and after the program helping you maximize your impact.
4. Do not be afraid to vary and explore new sectors through your partnerships
Partnerships can also be a great opportunity to expand your areas of expertise. Bringing in a wider range of mentors can help you branch out into services you might have not even thought of before. From local businessmen with very practical and lean advice to large investors who can help reach new markets and see the bigger picture, having a little bit of everything balances your program’s efectiveness. Even if it seems a bit unexpected or scary, regularly meeting with new prospective mentors from all fields is of great value. The more the merrier! Just make sure you are aligned, and once you have that bring everyone on board. They say it takes a village to raise a child and, in that regard, setting up a startup is no different.
5. Look for mentors and partners around the world to open new opportunities
Expanding also includes moving outside your borders. After a while in the sector, your local innovationecosystem and network may be a bit too comfortable. Offer your founders international opportunities by finding mentors outside geographical borders. After all, we are moving faster and faster in a global market perspective with global online presence for all. International mentors bring their know-how from different markets so that you can provide all the new trends, know-how and best practices from abroad.
6. Never stop looking!
Last, but not least, when it comes to mentors the search is never-ending. Mentors are the perfect channel to keep bringing new faces and actors to your startup program to keep it fresh and relevant. Do not shy away from seeking new and exciting opportunities regardless of how ambitious they may seem. Allow yourself to be found by mentors as well. Once you have a well-established network, mentorship opportunities are endless.
If you feel a bit stale or do not know where to start, the Founderhood platform can support you by assisting your in-person, hybrid or online program/s with features making the mentoring sessions monitorable and scalable.
Overall, there is no golden rule or perfect solution to finding the right mentors. It’s like finding your partner in life. As complex as it might be, being honest and relentlessly focused on your goal always helps! We hope this guide can inspire you in your continuous search process and that you have gained some new ideas.